“You don’t have to go. You can stay home. It’s up to you. But if you let fear stop you from doing what you really want to do, you’ll regret that forever.”
― Allison Vesterfelt, Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage
You could say that I’ve had a case of sweet wanderlust my whole life. At two years old, I’d wait until my mom turned her back, sneak out the house, and go running down the street. And when we took a family trip to New Orleans when I was three, I escaped from my parents at the restaurant, climbed up on a stool at the bar and ordered myself a Shirley Temple with LOTS of cherries. My need to travel to new places and experience new things (especially if they’re new desserts!) hasn’t faded one bit since then.
So now, I’m excited to share that I’m following my sweet wanderlust on a new adventure. I’ve purchased a one-way ticket (for only $5.60+miles!) to Spain for August 19. If you remember my New York post (and its day-by-day, color-coded map), you’ll know that I’m a bit of a planner. So I have a few opportunities booked already, but I’m holding plans loosely in order to experience life to the fullest and say YES to adventures as they present themselves.
I’m sure things will change/get reordered/look WAY different than I expect, but here’s what I think my life is going to look like over the next two years:
I’m on the waiting list for a week-long English intensive for professional Spaniards (prayers would be appreciated that a spot would open up for me!!). If that doesn’t work out, I’ve got 10 days to explore Madrid and maybe Barcelona, too. In September, I’m volunteering at a hostel near Granada, Spain for 2 weeks. I’ll be working in reception and doing some cleaning and gardening for around four hours every day + taking the dog for a walk. That will be nice, because I’m sure I’ll be having some MAJOR Cooper withdrawals by that point. (Side note: Big thanks to my parents for taking care of my sweet puppy. Even though his fits in a suitcase… he’s not going to join me on this adventure.)
“Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life.” –Anna Akhmatova
Italy was my first overseas trip at age 14, and I’ve been longing to return ever since. Pasta, pizza, and (most of all) gelato have been calling my name! I’ve answered that call… so mid-September- mid-November will be spent exploring Italy. I was overjoyed when my friend, Leigh, shared that she’s moving to Florence for cooking school within a week of my trip starting. She’s got the travel bug just as bad as I do, and I’m looking forward to having one of my best friends and favorite travel buddy in the area! Plus, she studied abroad there during her underground, so it will be fun to see some of her favorite places together.
During my two months in Italy, I’ll spend quite a bit of time in the Tuscany area. I’ll be staying with two different families during that time– the first family owns a vineyard, and I’ll be helping with the grape harvest. I’m especially excited because the winemaker has promised to teach me everything he knows about how to make wine!
Then, I’ll stay on a farm and help a family with the olive harvest. Here’s the daily schedule according to my host:
Ready for work at 8.30 am,
morning break 10.30 -11.00 ish, (coffee, tea & biscuits)
back to work until lunch break “pranzo” at 1.00.
Harvesting from 2.30 till 4.30
Dinner together at 8.30.
Then, I’ll hop a plane to Thailand to experience the Loy Krathong and Yi Peng festivals in Chiang Mai and will stay there until mid-December. Thailand has just made it onto my radar in the past few years, but I’m looking forward to playing with elephants and tigers, seeing thousands of lanterns floating through the night sky à la Tangled, and scuba diving in the Gulf of Thailand or the Andaman Sea. And doing all this while living on around $30/ day doesn’t sound too bad, either!
Next stops: New Zealand and then Australia. Both allow one-year work/travel visas to American citizens before their 30th birthday, so the countdown is on! As of now, I plan to spend eight months working and traveling in New Zealand, then I’ll get to Australia just before my birthday, and spend my 30th year Down Under!
I’m so grateful to my friends, co-workers and family for their support and encouragement over the past months. There’s certainly a grieving process as I’m going to miss weddings, births, spontaneous trips to Canton, girls’ nights, and phone dates with my favorites. But knowing that those I’m close with support me has meant the world, so thank you!
I look forward to sharing my experiences, photos and hopefully offering advice to other travelers who are planning to visit the places I go!
Have you ever been to any of the places I plan to visit? Any tips for what to see/ do/ eat?!